It has been a very busy month as I continue to settle into my new role here in National Office. I have been introduced to lots of new colleagues, and because it is such a big office and summer holiday time there is always someone new to meet which is lovely. I also now feel like a fully-fledged member of staff in Bristol with my very own brand new staff pass! I have started attending all sorts of meetings with different teams as I join various projects and initiatives, and am getting stuck into loads of work. I have a huge amount of work spanning several different departments, but my key focus currently is on the development of the Operational Guidance Booklets (OGBs) into new guidance online. I am now leading this exciting new project as Project Manager which is a terrific opportunity for me, as well as incredibly worthwhile work. Rather a full diary of work is the result, but I am definitely happiest when busy so I am enjoying it all very much. Especially so as I really like having the ability to switch between different subjects as the need demands, keeping me always alert and on my toes for any new developments.
My new role with the development of the OGBs into new guidance will involve plenty of travel around the country spreading the word as I also gather opinions about the new project. Recently I was in Central District in the Fineshades FC office for a meeting on the new guidance for Forest Planning. I had to catch a train at a dreadfully early time of the morning but it was worth it. Most importantly of course for the crucial feedback and information the meeting provided me for the new guidance, but it was also most pleasing to visit Fineshades itself which is beautiful! Made of Cotswolds honey yellow stone and incorporating a café and bike facilities for the public it was well worth seeing. It even reminded me of the glories of Queen’s House as I relished being out in a district office once more. The meeting in Fineshades was with Central colleagues and structured around discussion of OGB36 – Forest Design Planning. I felt very thankful that I had spent so long working on the web summaries for Forest Design Plans while in the South as naturally the discussion was highly technical, but it was also jolly interesting as lots of ideas came to the forefront surrounding the way in which FDPs are written in different districts and the ways in which OGBs are used. I have only worked in one district thus far, and it is wonderful having the chance to visit the other five districts and meet colleagues there. The districts have many similarities, but the vastly differing topographies, tree species, focus (some towards harvesting and others more heavily towards recreation) and landscape provide excellent exposure to me of different types of forest management. As part of my management of the new guidance I will be visiting all six districts to hold meetings ensuring that opinions are being heard and incorporated when the new guidance is written.
It is such an exciting time to be involved with the new guidance project – I have become involved at such a crucial stage as the new guidance is in the early stages of being written. In fact I am currently working on rewriting three of the old OGBs myself which is very challenging and seemed horribly daunting to begin with, but it is jolly satisfying covering the screen with your own text and elucidating the pivotal issues. Last week I completed the first draft of one of them and felt so proud and pleased… until I contemplated the sheer number of others that remain to be worked on! Redeveloping them is a country-wide project and involves so many different facets to its delivery that there are terrific opportunities for me to develop my skills and experience. Developing the new guidance involves researching a great deal of different fields, not least the legislation involved. The FC is legally obliged to follow all sorts of legislation relating to all our many different functions, duties and activities. Alongside this the FC must abide by government policy and standards set by the forestry industry such as UKWAS and FISA. In addition the FC has its own policies of good practice to contribute to this mix. So in order to amalgamate all of these laws, policies and official standards the FC created the OGBs – Operational Guidance Booklets. There is an OGB for everything, such as Chainsaw Management, Planting Density, Equality and Diversity and the list goes on. These OGBs are crucial to keeping us all working in the correct and approved manner in every situation, and indeed have been invaluable to me as sources of information on practices within the FC. I well remember my time as Works Supervisor when I was making site visits to contractors – I always had my OGBs in the van and would stop at the entrance to a site to have a quick read and make sure I knew what I was checking for on site!
The OGBs have been crucial to the FC’s success, but as the FC devolves its central services, due to the devolution of the Scottish and English Forestry Commissions, it is necessary for us to take a new approach. My colleague Dominic has been spearheading this project as we seek to ensure we are providing FC staff with concise and user friendly guidance. I am now working with him as Project Manager as we work to amalgamate a lot of separate guidance to provide the best possible support on the wide range of subjects the OGBs currently cover.
I continue to call the new OGBs ‘new guidance’ because we haven’t yet settled on a name for them. I have well over 50 names jotted down as possible, but although Dom was very polite about them I am not sure he is going to change his mind and accept such wonderful titles as Knowledge Relascopes, Timber Stacks, The Forester’s Repository or even The Silvicultural Portal… My personal favourite is currently The Onodrim Portal, with the OGBs being Onodrims and numbered sequentially. Oh how lovely to say I was off to look up The Onodrim Portal to read Onodrim 3! Onodrim translates as tree-host and so I think it would be rather perfect… Alas I am sure the new name will be chosen in a formal meeting where I fear my suggestions may not meet with universal approval!